Jim Swartz, a smart-building specialist with the General Services Administration, describes how a water infiltration system and solar panels on the roof of New Carrollton Federal Building in New Carrollton, Maryland, conserves energy during a Dec. 1 tour of the building. Listening to presentation are (from left) House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, New Carrollton Mayor Phelecia Nembhard and Jennifer Granholm, secretary for the U.S. Department of Energy. (Robert R. Roberts/The Washington Informer)

Federal officials toured the New Carrollton Federal Building in Prince George’s County on Wednesday to tout the recently signed $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and the House passage of the $1.85 trillion social spending and climate bill.

As the discussion on the social and climate bill continues in the Senate, Biden administration officials praised how that and the bipartisan infrastructure bill will help battle climate change.

Jennifer Granholm, secretary for the U.S. Department of Energy, said environmental work at the federal building reduced energy consumption by 62% and saves $2.5 million annually.

She outlined the work as “a quadruple win” for jobs, the employees who work in the building, improvement of the environment, and taxpayer savings.

Solar panels on the roof of New Carrollton Federal Building in New Carrollton, Maryland, are shown here. Federal and county officials toured the building on Dec. 1 to promote energy efficiency and implementing other environmental projects nationwide. (Robert R. Roberts/The Washington Informer)

Officials used the 30-year-old federal building managed by the General Services Administration as an example on how energy conservation projects can work in the public and private sector nationwide, as well as to promote the infrastructure bill recently signed by President Joe Biden and the Build Back Better Act.

Robin Carnahan, administrator for the GSA, said the nine-story building was retrofitted with an energy-efficient water infiltration system, more than a dozen solar panels and LED lights. The work began in 2012 and was completed in 2016.

Carnahan said the building conserved its usage by 20,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas, which equate to 2,400 homes.

As part of the Build Back Better Act, funding for the environment would include energy projects in low-income neighborhoods, weatherization projects and establish a methane fee for certain petroleum and natural gas facilities.

There remains some friction in the Senate on the cost and other provisions in the bill, but Carnahan said the legislation also produces jobs. Although most of the building remains empty due to COVID-19 regulations, more than 3,000 IRS workers are stationed at the federal building in New Carrollton.

“This isn’t about politics. This is about smart investments of tax dollars because we are saving money,” she said. “It’s about helping the environment because we know it is reducing greenhouse gases and tackling climate change. It’s creating great jobs and a pipeline for innovative companies. It’s just a win across the board.”

Robin Carnahan (foreground), administrator for the General Services Administration, and Jennifer Granholm (left), secretary for the U.S. Department of Energy, walk on the roof of the New Carrollton Federal Building in New Carrollton, Maryland, on Dec. 1 to view a water infiltration system and solar panels. Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (far right) and New Carrollton Mayor Phelecia Nembhard join the tour of building. (Robert R. Roberts/The Washington Informer)

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland), who led the effort to pass the Build Back Better plan in that chamber on Nov. 19, said a Senate vote could happen this month or next month.

Locally, Prince George’s County continues to work on a climate change proposal that includes registering about 15% of vehicles in the county as electric vehicles by 2030 and encouraging food and climate education in the county public schools and community college.

New Carrollton Mayor Phelecia Nembhard said the federal officials visiting the city can create partnerships with the federal government on other projects.

“We are going to emulate what has been done here and find out how we can get the resources to do similar projects within our city and within our county,” she said. “It’s our taxpayer dollars we are saving and people of color will see the benefit of doing similar projects to enhance our well-being.”

Coverage for the Washington Informer includes Prince George’s County government, school system and some state of Maryland government. Received an award in 2019 from the D.C. Chapter of the Society of...

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